Week 3: Wild Rice

Wild Rice

I chose wild rice for my grain this week because I had a bag of it in my pantry! And it’s delicious. So I cooked the entire bag and ended up with 10 cups of cooked wild rice! A 5-cup container frozen for later, and a 5-cup container in the fridge for my assignment…

“Recipe” #1 – Wild Rice for breakfast, with frozen berries as the topping.

Wild Rice with Frozen Berries

No recipe – just wild rice with frozen berries! Microwave for a couple minutes at 60% power to get everything nicely warmed up and enjoy. Delicious and incredibly simple. Repeated a few times throughout the week, with around one cup of wild rice and a generous layer of berries on top.

Recipe #2 – Wild Rice Pancakes, by Marian Burros, from the New York Times (link)

Wild Rice Pancake

I made this recipe on Sunday morning and enjoyed two pancakes with real maple syrup. It was very tasty, but the batter was very thick, and the pancakes were very heavy eating. While it was very tasty, I would tweak the recipe somewhat to thin out the batter and see what that does to the heaviness of the pancakes. I’m guessing it would only have a small effect. The pancakes really sat like a brick in my stomach for a while. I will try them again with some tweaks, but I also may try simply mixing some wild rice with some boxed pancake mix, and made with a bit of extra liquid…

I have 5 more pancakes in the freezer, and I think one pancake will be sufficient for one breakfast!!!

Recipe #3 – Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup, by Martha Rose Shulman, from the New York Times (link)

Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

I didn’t find the dried porcini mushrooms, so I subbed fresh portabellas. I also tweaked the cooking process to add the already cooked wild rice toward the end, and I forgot the peas since I was multitasking while cooking!!! BUT, despite the goof-ups and the substitutions, this was a really tasty soup! I’ll do this again. Now I have 6 single serve containers in the freezer, and two multi-serving containers. Next time I make this, I will add more wild rice (already increased from 2/3 cup to about 1.5 cups) and I’ll also add more vegetables. And maybe remember to add the peas?

New things I learned: Bouquet garni. Never heard of this, but I can really see the benefit of this! Mine consisted simply of thyme and parsley – no bay leaf and no parmesan rind. But still very tasty results and a recipe I’ll hang on to…

Oh – and I forgot to photograph the process!!! Blessed multitasking…

Assignment 2: Vegetating

Recipe #1: Scandinavian Potato Salad

OK – so this isn’t really something new or different aside from the fact that I’ve never made them myself… The recipe is from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, 1982.

A simple recipe that consists of boiled new potatoes, black pepper, purple onions (sub yellow onions), fresh dill, and sour cream (not in my version!!!). Chopped up potatoes were boiled until tender, then combined with onions and dill with a few shakes of black pepper. Delicious.

 

Recipe #2: Asparagus Pesto (link)

Asparagus Pesto

Recipe from the New York Times, by Mark Bittman.

I chose this recipe because – what the heck? Pesto made with Asparagus? That’s Crazy!!!

After all the existential dread about pesto made with asparagus wore off, I made this and it was really tasty! Highly recommended that you make this… I’ll keep this in my Good Food recipe book. The recipe contains asparagus, garlic, pine nuts (sub walnuts), olive oil, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and lemon juice.

 

Recipe #3: Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Recipe from The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Laurel Randolph

Vegetarian, gluten free, and paleo friendly! (FWIW)

Oh holy buckets, I forgot to photograph the process… So the only photo is of the dregs of the dip in the pot that I finished off with some pita chips that I had in my pantry. The rest went into containers and into the freezer. And it was reasonably tasty. BUT – I won’t try this again because it’s too much work for a dip that is just OK. Refer back to the Asparagus Pesto – YES, I’ll do the Asparagus Pesto again.

So the recipe consists of 2 pounds of eggplant, 1/2 peeled but with some skin and cut into 1″ cubes, 4 garlic cloves, 3/4 cup roasted red pepper, freshly squeezed lemon juice and bits of tahini, cumin, black pepper, kosher salt, olive oil, and water. And this was the FIRST time I have ever used my immersion blender! So despite the fact that I won’t make this again, I finally got to use that blender!

 

Recipe #4: Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins.

Ran out of time… Spent the majority of my weekend installing a new water heater, so not enough time for 4 recipes… Must do this one later this week…

This one really looks good. Butternut squash, onion, butter, curry powder, apples peeled and cored (honeycrisp!), chicken stock and apple juice… Salt & pepper to taste, and with a shredded Granny Smith apple for garnish. Yeah, this will get done on Wednesday night…

 

Homework Questions:

Fresh vegetables consumed this week compared to others weeks? Definitely increased, and tasty. I have enough cookbooks that I’ve barely cracked open to find lots of recipes to try. I’ve always had the idea of “more fruits and vegetables” on my mind, but this exercise has raised my awareness in a very tasty way…

Buying in bulk? This is a tough one. I’m cooking just for me right now, so bulk is out of the question. But fresh vs. frozen or canned? I can definitely see the advantages of fresh. I’ll still keep frozen vegetables, and some frozen fruits, in my freezer. But the fresh stuff, especially the herbs, are fantastic.

Tasty Accidents

Homework Assignment #1 – Cooking with what I have in the kitchen… Oy.

Meal #1: Chicken Enchilada “Burritos” with Dirty Rice – winging it! No recipe…

Ingredients: No fresh stuff – Cans of Shame – Trader Joe’s Premium Chunk White Chicken in Broth (2 cans), Wild Harvest Organic Chili Beans in Sauce (1 can), Kirkland Organic Diced Tomatoes (2 cans), Trader Joe’s Enchilada Sauce (1 bottle), Zatarain’s Dirty Rice Mix (1 box), Flatout Flatbread – Multigrain (instead of tortillas). (didn’t use the black beans from the photo)

Starting Point

In a 2 quart covered pan, get the dirty rice started. In a 3 quart covered pan, combine chicken, enchilada sauce, 2 cans diced tomatoes drained, and one can chili beans, drained. And cook over medium heat. WAY too much liquid, so simmer it down for about 30+ minutes to get rid of some of the liquid! This is a “burrito,” not a soup!

Chicken Enchiladas Cooking

So after cooking everything down to manageable consistencies, I put rice and the chicken enchilada mixture onto a piece of flatbread and took a bite. Verdict: Not bad! I’m glad I didn’t use the black beans in addition to the chili beans, and also glad I used two cans of the diced tomatoes. Room for Improvement: Some of that fresh salsa from last week’s class would have been an excellent addition, and some lettuce would have been good.

Ready to Roll It Up

Bonus: Since I’m cooking just for myself, I now have six 1-cup servings of rice/enchilada mix and two 2-cup servings sitting in the freezer for lunches and dinners! I will add some lettuce and some salsa to the burritos when I make these over the next couple of weeks.

Editorial commentary on the meal “planning” and preparation process: Cooking with what I have in the house may not always be the best idea! I don’t commonly use recipes when I cook – I just throw things together and figure that if it’s awful, I’ll order a pizza! I have more kitchen cooking implements than I need and have actually been getting rid of some pots and pans to focus on the most important items. And I have plenty of canned and frozen food to feed myself for many, many weeks. And a variety of oils, vinegars, spices, and sauces, and they generally sit unused…

Meal #2: One-Pot Penne and Turkey Meatballs from The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Laurel Randolph.

Cookbook - Shameless Plug (Shameless plug)

I’m going to cheat on this meal and shop for a few ingredients that I don’t have in my pantry, including panko breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, yellow onion, fresh basil, and canned tomato sauce. For the ground turkey, I’m going to thaw some turkey burgers and use them for the meatballs.

Annnnd…. A Delicious Failure to Pay Attention.

Recipe calls for mixing of the turkey, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, basil, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix well and form into 1-1/2” meatballs. And the washing machine buzzer sounds as I’m assembling the ingredients in a bowl, so I take a break to tend to the laundry. Everything is in the bowl ready to be mixed up and I completely forgot to add the parmesan cheese and garlic. Mixed thoroughly, made meatballs, and sautéed them in the Instant Pot as the recipe calls for.

As per my “recipe as merely a guideline” practice of tweaking things, I used about 1.5 lbs of meat instead of the 1 pound the recipe called for, so I added a bit extra of the ingredients that I DID remember to put in the bowl. So I needed to sauté the meatballs in two batches because there were too many! After the meatballs were ready, I added the tomato sauce on top of the meatballs, the pasta, then the diced tomatoes, and about a ½ jar of Newman’s Own Tomato and Basil pasta sauce so the pasta was completely covered.

Turkey Meatballs and Penne

5 minutes on high in the Instant Pot and then turned it off per the recipe. After letting it cool for about 3-4 minutes, I vented it and opened it up to find that the pasta wasn’t all thoroughly cooked, so a bit of stirring to make sure everything is covered by tomato sauce, and 4 more minutes on high. At this point, everything looked good and it was time to fill 6 more Pyrex containers with single-serve meals to freeze, and use some larger Pyrex containers to take up the rest. And of course, being prepared on Sunday morning, I had turkey meatballs with penne for breakfast.

Turkey Meatballs and Penne in Pyrex

Despite my failure to include the parmesan and garlic, the result was Very Tasty! And I put parmesan on top and nuked it for 30 seconds and it was perfect. And I’m about out of Pyrex containers so I need to figure out what to do about next week’s homework assignments. Buy more Pyrex containers? Between these two recipes and previous cooking/freezing, I might need a new freezer as well!

Main lessons learned in the assembly of this recipe include: 1) Pay Attention! Although the results were still delicious, the parmesan and garlic would have been a good addition to the meatball mix. 2) Maybe stick a little closer to the recipe, but still take the opportunity to tweak things. 3) Fresh Basil is awesome!